The Eight-Hour Lasagna

 

You know what I love?  Making food.

What I could do with a little less of?  Making ingredients.

For example, one of my favorite things to make are cake pops.  I’m not a big fan of cake by itself, though, so rather than taking a long time to perfect a cake recipe to turn into cake pops, I just use cake mix.  It’s quick, simple, and the end result is still pretty tasty.

I culled this recipe from a cookbook collecting dishes from that one Bobby Flay show (not Flay’s recipe, bee tee dubs). The thing that attracted me to the recipe was the first step – making your own meatballs.  The only pasta sauce I’ve ever made comes from canned tomato paste with a few spices thrown in.  The idea of actually making my own seasoned meatballs really appealed to me.

…but then I just had to crumble the balls up so that they’d fit between the layers of lasagna noodles.

Hey, don’t get me wrong – this is real good lasagna.  It just, you know, takes for-bleedin’-ever.  Next time, I’mma just make spaghetti and meatballs.

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The Conspirator’s Dollar

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In case you can’t read the stamps:

THE CODE WORD FOR NEW WORLD ORDER IS GLOBLIZATION

SOON YOU WILL NEED A CHIP TO BUY, SELL, OR TRADE THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST.  JUST SAY NO TO ALL ELETRIC [sic] MONEY AND THE ISIS MOBILE WALLET.  USE CASH BE FREE.

Welp, I guess I need to buy more yarn to clip my newspaper article about the conspiracy of the elders of Zion to “Big Phone.”

Oh, I Wanna Dance with Some…body?

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Dancing’s been on my mind a lot since New Year’s Eve.  Whenever I obsess over something, I tend to have to draw it, at least a little bit.  My intention was to draw a picture of a girl, mid-twirl, with long hair flicking out all over the dang place.  So I started working on it.  The male dancer’s pose took… a long time to get right (not sure I’m fully satisfied with it even now), but things started to come together.

Then I remembered this picture I drew back in… like… 2013 or something:

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At the time, I was super-proud of it.  Still am, actually, despite some issues with the perspective and some rather cringe-worthy hand shortcuts.

Anyway, kind of as a gag, I drew a big triangle over the female dancer’s face, and it just.

Kinda.

Took over.

That was it.  My initial plan, to draw a completely new picture with human faces motion and stuff, got completely derailed, and I wound up recycling a sketch idea from several years ago.

Oh, well.  I kinda like the new version better,  partly due to how much more space I had to work with (my current sketchbook’s much larger than the 2013 model) and partly because I have a weird fascination with bald women.

…although the fact that I had to look up “party decorations” in Google Image Search to even get an idea for what to do with the background leads me to think I should get out more and spend less time drawing.

Mr. A and the Junior-High Wedding Spree

 I don’t know if you guys have this experience, but the more I think back on the experiences I had with teachers growing up, the more I start to wonder if some of the quirks I found so endearing in them were grounded in anything resembling sanity.Take, for example, my junior high Spanish teacher, whom I’ll call “Mr. A” just in case he’s still teaching and, you know, some of his activities wind up not actually being legal.

Mr. A had been teaching a long time before I made it to junior high.  He’d actually taught my oldest brother, who would come home with stories about the peculiar things Mr. A had done that day.  So I already knew the man by reputation before ever starting class with him.

Here’s one quirk: everyone in the class got a nickname, usually a mite embarrassing, frequently terribly long.  Mr. A probably spent about ten minutes every day calling roll.

For example, my brother got called “Joe Blow From Kokomo Sucks His Toe All the Way to Mexico.”  A buddy of mine got “Coxy Loxy Turkey Lurkey Chicken Little.”  Another guy in my class, named Rory, was called “Roar the Snore Bore.”*

Mr. A kept two things of note on his desk.  The first was a squirt bottle filled with water.  Anyone caught sleeping or mouthing off in class immediately got squirted.  Sometimes, if he was feeling particularly bored, Mr. A would just squirt the whole class to liven things up.  The closer we got to the end of the school year, the more likely the squirt gun would simply be replaced by an actual squirt gun, or even something with a little more force behind it.

The other possession was the infamous gum jar.  If you had gum in your mouth after the bell rang, you had to deposit their gum in the jar.  By the end of the year, the jar always accumulated a pretty noticeable pool of saliva at the bottom, and if you think no student ever thought to spike Mr. A’s drink with that accumulation, then you’ve probably never been to a junior high school in the United States.  Those incidents usually ended in physical violence.

Did I mention Mr. A always walked around leaning heavily on a golf club?  Yeah, if the squirt gun wasn’t dramatic enough, he’d hit the desks of sleeping students.  Now, I’m not saying he ever missed, but there were certainly rumors.

Probably the strangest of Mr. A’s many, many idiosyncrasies was his tendency to marry classmates off to each other.  If he saw that two students were getting the same score consistently on their homework, he assumed they were studying together.  Naturally, if they were studying together, they must be going steady.  And if they were going steady, then obviously they’d want to get married, and Mr. A was just the guy to do it.

During the “wedding,” the lovely couple would be forced to stand, as Mr. A recited, verbatim, “By the power vested in me by the state of Utah, HJ high school, and because I damn well want to:  Zap!  You’re married!”

To get a divorce, the girl would have to bring a note from home, signed by her mother.

The one time I got married, the girl brought the note the very next day.  Now, I’m not saying that’s what caused my commitment issues.  I’m just saying that junior high is a very sensitive time for many people, and the things that happen to them during those years could have repercussions for decades to come.

 

*Me?  I just got called “Braddy Buns.”  And, yes, that is basically the origin of where my online handle came from.

Mrs. Yvonne Rousseau at the Organ

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During my Guatemala trip, I met a woman who is a member of an organ historical society.  She mentioned that people tend to doze off whenever she starts talking about the instrument.  Naturally, I was all like, “Challenge accepted!”  As it turns out, organs are pretty cool.  They’re basically an instrument the size of an entire room – and, depending on the number of pipes, that can be pretty huge.  Nowadays, full-sized organs are pretty expensive and likely constructed only rarely, especially now that electric organs are a thing.  That means that every pipe organ, regardless of size or location, is part of a dying art form, and is potentially a historic landmark.

Also, nothing will challenge your ability to draw straight lines freehand quite like drawing organ pipes.

Your Children Will Disappoint You More Than Your Wife Ever Will

Believe it or not, that’s some of the best advice I’ve gotten in recent months.  Lemme explain:

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about myself.  You might say I’m my own favorite topic.  I’ve had a lot of trouble reconciling what I consider to be opposing aspects of my personality:

  • I love public speaking, but I hate social interactions.
  • I like being my own boss, but I hate overseeing other people.
  • I’m an outgoing performer, willing to wear a dress onstage, if need be, but I struggle talking with people one-on-one.

In talking with friends, I’ve been labeled an “extroverted introvert,” which… I dunno.  I’ve always found the whole “introvert/extrovert” thing to be a little reductive and not entirely helpful, so that didn’t do much to satisfy me.

So not long ago, I was having a conversation with the bishop of my church, a good man whose opinion I esteem very highly, and one of the only people not directly related to me I allow to lecture me about my life.  We were talking about some of the goals I had been setting and working towards, and he asked me how my dating life was going.  I don’t remember what I said exactly, but it probably sounded something like this.

In short, I told him that I was more eager to be a father than I was to be a husband.  To which my bishop said, “Of course.  That’s because you can control your kids.”

  

Guys, you have no idea what that phrase did to me.  We’re talking full-on paradigm shift here.  Mind.  Blown.
And this is where the title line comes in.  He told me, “Your children will disappoint you more than your wife ever will.”  Here’s what I think he met:

When you’re a parent, you are a figure of authority.  Yes, you set the rules, but your children will react to those rules in ways you can’t predict, which, sometimes means that they will act in a way you don’t expect.  This can often lead to heartache, frustration, and, yes, disappointment.

However, when you’re a spouse, your partner really isn’t beholden to any rules you choose to set for them.  More likely (at least, in the sort of marriage my bishop seems to have and in the one which he wants for me), both parties are partners, committed to the same goal and collaborating on the same processes towards that goal.  The destination isn’t always in their control, but their cooperation is.  As they stay committed to working together, they grow closer together, and they learn to trust and rely on each other.

But it all starts with surrendering some of that control, which… *shudder*

Yeah, that spooks me still.

Working the Bag

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You guys ever hear of the musical Hamilton?  It’s a hip-hop opera about the life and times of the United States’ first secretary of finance.  It’s got some pretty sweet songs, including a number called “My Shot” that’s all about Alexander Hamilton’s college aspirations and his gripes with the British tax system.

It also happens to be a great song to have playing while you’re practicing your jabs.

I mean, I assume.  The closest I ever get to actually boxing is jumping rope.  You know, because, like Eddie Izzard said, the only people you ever see jumping rope are little girls and big *%^$^ boxers.

And I’m not a little girl.  Probably.

Braddy’s Dancetastic New Year

  
A friend of mine came to Salt Lake from out of town for the holidays, and she invited me to go out dancing with her and some other friends. The plan was to go out to a couple of different danced – one starting at ten o’clock, and the other at two A.M. Now, I recognize that New Years only comes around once a year, and that it tends to be a time when people cut loose and party irresponsibly for one wild night, but I’m nothing if not a timid ball of insecurity, so I said no.

Back when I was in high school, I went to dances almost monthly, usually after my friends would show up at my doorstep with a tie and demand I accompany them. I was always too self-conscious to really cut loose and enjoy myself, unless there was a girl I crushed on present, in which case I got too nauseated instead. The one time I managed to work up the nerve to actually dance, I got laughed at. So, yeah, no dancing for me.

I tell you this so that you appreciate how unusual it was for me, after already declining the invitation, to show up anyway.

When the music started, I resolved to just cut loose, and to Hades with whatever shred of dignity I thought I was holding on to. So there I was, dancing like a… well, like a lanky, thirty-something white guy. But when your a lanky, thirty-something white guy, one who’s accustomed to spending New Years Eve alone, you realize your dignity hasn’t helped you have one iota of fun, so it can’t really be worth all that much, can it.

As it turns out, ten years of dancing to Usher in the car actually does a bit for one’s dance floor confidence. There I was, elbows out, step-touch-step-touching like a wannabe Fred Astaire to “Turn Down for What,” and, surprisingly, loving every second of it.

The closer we got to midnight, the more crowded the dance floor got, until the point where there was literally nowhere for any of us to move except straight up. “Dancing” turned into “hopping up and down in one place.” Still, with that many people around, the energy in the room was contagious, and we greeted midnight with a lot of screaming.

And lots of selfies. Screaming and selfies.

From there, it was off to the after party. The second dance we attended was a Latin dance. Now, I don’t know much about Latin dancing at all, and the shouted instructions didn’t do me a whole lot of good. I’ve recently managed to pick up a little bit of Spanish using the Duolingo app, but at the moment my conversational Spanish is pretty much limited to “Tenemos un pingüino,” a phrase which does not come up in dancing as much as you’d think.

Latin dancing seems to involve mostly walking in place for about forty minutes while still managing to look slick and classy. I can walk pretty well, but classy’s still a bit out of my reach. Especially when we’re now coming up on about 4:00 in the morning. By that point, both my dance partners and I weren’t really too keen on the “having fun” part of the festivities. We were more focused on the “Gotta keep moving before I fall asleep on the dance floor” part.

I made it home somewhere around 5:00, sweaty, sore, and somehow completely satisfied with my adventure. As I slid into bed, I found myself thinking that 2015 ended on quite the high note, one that had completely worn me out. I was ready to get a nice, deep sleep, preparatory to starting off 2016 fresh.

Of course, that’s the moment my cat chose to jump on my chest.